Effective Delegation

How to handle the transfer of responsibility

Knowing how much to delegate is a difficult problem for aviation supervisors. In a highly technical field like aviation maintenance, it is very common for supervisors not to delegate. The successful manager learns to switch the focus of activities from doing to planning. There is a direct correlation between management position and the amount of time required in “planning” and in “operating.”

Barriers to delegation
Delegation involves chance. Chance is risky. It is a question of control. When a job is delegated, there are feelings attached to the transfer of responsibility such as loss of power, loss of authority, and loss of achievement. Even though some of these feelings are uncomfortable at times, the risk is worth it when you consider the benefits of delegation. These emotions are not negative, but they do hinder effective delegation. Understanding these barriers will help you develop your “delegation consciousness.” One of the barriers is within the management personnel. The following are the three major barriers in management.

1). I can do it better

This fallacy of “I can do better” is often found among aviation supervisors. Even if the manager can do the work better, the choice is not between the quality of his/her work and the quality of the subordinate’s. It is rather between the benefits of better performance on a single task and the benefits derived when that time is devoted to planning, delegating, supervising, training, and developing a team. Eventually a team will both outperform and outlast the manager.

2). Lack of confidence in subordinates

This is a never-ending cycle. When delegation is withheld because of lack of confidence, subordinates are denied the opportunity to develop the very abilities they need to warrant confidence. This makes the manager’s doubts a self-fulfilling prophecy.

3). Insecurity

Do not be afraid of being disliked by subordinates. Don’t be afraid to ask others to increase their job responsibilities. Don’t be afraid you will appear to be dispensable to the company. Delegation is a management tool designed to help you get greater results with less effort. A hectic pace is not a sign of achievement, but of inefficiency.

What to delegate
Even a good employee will not find the work to do. That is your job now as a manager — managing and directing. Why invent jobs or stretch out work to satisfy a false perception of “looking busy?” Even though people sometimes slide through their workday, there is no reason you should choose inefficient and often directionless management. It is like troubleshooting the aircraft by parts swapping. A technician may look busy and is doing something to repair the aircraft, but the reality is he/she is not accomplishing anything. In fact, it is costing more money and longer aircraft downtime.

1). Delegate routine and necessary tasks.

These are the jobs that you have done over and over. These are often the “necessary” tasks of the job that are routinely dictated by your company. You know the jobs very well, including problems, unique characteristics, and the specifics of how to do these jobs. Delegate routine jobs such as shipping a part by properly filling out all forms, boxing it, and making the arrangements. These are the easiest jobs to delegate. Because you know these tasks so well, you can easily explain and delegate them away.

2). Delegate the specialty.

Would you perform surgery on your family? Would you represent yourself in court without a lawyer? Would you overhaul a jet engine? You will probably not do all these things, unless you happen to be a surgeon, a lawyer, or an experienced engine technician. You should look for the most skilled person in the field. The same is true at your company. Take advantage of any specialties that exist in your operation. If you are choosing a new avionics package for your aircraft, you should look for an avionics technician to delegate. If you are creating a maintenance procedure manual, delegate to a technician who writes well.
Beware of being a “superman.” You must realize that there are occasions that require delegation of tasks you normally perform to skilled professionals such as lawyers, accountants, engine technicians, avionics technicians, and HAZMAT consultants. Match your needs to the skill of the people available to you. Practice selective and discriminating delegation here.

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